WEBINAR LGBTIQ+ RIGHTS IN LATIN AMERICA: LOOKING TOWARDSTHE FUTURE
On the last day of June, a new chapter of Pride Month was closing, synonymous with conquests, but also with struggles, suffering, postponements, persecution, and shame.
And on that June 30, marked by a pandemic that has not yet come to an end, the Argentine Embassy and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, once again, reasserted common objectives.
This time, it was through a webinar focused on the evolution of the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community in Argentina and Latin America, and the possibilities when developing an agenda that still has a long way to go.
The meeting, moderated by Michael Boucai, Professor at the University of Buffalo Law School, brought together expert panelists: Jay Brown, Senior Vice President of Programs, Research and Training of the Human Rights Campaign; Patricio Simonetto, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at University College London; Esteban Paulón, Executive Director of the LGBT+ Public Policy Institute; and Milagros Chirinos, Associate Director of the Global Workplace Equality Program at the Human Rights Campaign.
A comprehensive approach brought together different perspectives related to the main trends that characterized the LGBTIQ+ movement in Latin America throughout the past 40 years. In turn, the specificities of this process in Argentina and the possibility of collaborating with the private sector to promote inclusive workplaces were also addressed.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Argüello stated: “In the case of Argentina, its position is clear and unequivocal: these rights are Human Rights and, as such, their promotion and protection is part of a State policy that our government is carrying out, both in its domestic agenda, as well as through its actions in the multilateral arena”.
Focusing on the LGBTIQ+ community leads to a reflection on discrimination, injustices, and violence that, even today, are ongoing throughout the world. However, Brown was the first to point out that “the inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ community in Argentina and Latin America is truly inspiring."
In fact, Argentina’s history has set international milestones. In July 2010, the Argentine Congress approved the Equal Marriage Law, thereby becoming the first country in Latin America to establish that marriage has the same requirements and effects, regardless of whether the parties are of the same or opposite sex. In 2012, the Legislative Branch approved the Gender Identity Law, placing Argentina as a leader in the area of transgender rights; this allowed people to modify their personal data in order to adapt them to their self-perceived gender identity and to have access to treatments that guarantee their right to freely develop their own person according to the chosen identity.
Added to these laws is the recent approval by the National Congress of a quota that reserves 1% of the vacancies in the Public Administration, in all current contracting modalities, to transvestite, trans or transgender people. However, beyond these achievements, Paulón emphasized the difference between formally established rights and their true impact on society. “In order to bridge the gap between what is legal and what really happens, we have to continue fighting for public policies that are reflected in the real world. On the other hand, in Argentina, we have a responsibility to share our experiences and our strategies with other countries, and to work together in certain areas that we are not covering yet".
From a historical perspective, Simonetto mentioned the persecution against what he called "sexual and gender dissidents" between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. He also referred to the reaction of the LGBTIQ+ community against such policies, especially since the 1960s, and in the case of Argentina, from the emergence of movements such as the Nuestro Mundo group in 1967 and the Homosexual Liberation Front in 1971.
On the other hand, he mentioned the struggles that took place in the context of the democratic transitions of the 80s, aimed at developing an ambitious antidiscriminatory agenda. He concluded by analyzing the growth of the LGBTIQ+ movement in the 21st century and the subsequent expansion of rights experienced since then.
From another perspective, Milagros Chirinos presented the work carried out by the Human Rights Campaign in the United States with the private sector through the Corporate Equality Index, adding that this experience served as the basis for creating a program in 2016 adapted to Mexico’s social and cultural reality and culture, to promote LGBTIQ-inclusive workplaces in that country. She referred to the success of the HRC Equidad MX program, in which 212 companies currently have an endorsement from the HRC Foundation in terms of LGBTIQ+ inclusivity, which allowed the development of a similar program in Chile in 2018, HRC Equidad CL.
Finally, Professor Boucai coordinated an exchange of opinions between the panelists on issues such as the main obstacles that the LGBTIQ+ community still faces in the region, the support activities that their friends, family, and allies can carry out, as well as possible insights for the next few years. The participants highlighted that Argentina is one of the most inclusive countries in the region and is, therefore, a source of inspiration to make progress elsewhere.■
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